Sen. Nelson Asks For Federal Review Of Pinellas Schools
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson is joining those who are calling for federal review of Pinellas County’s use of Title I funds for education.
In a letter to the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Nelson cited the five schools described in a Tampa Bay Times article as “failure factories.”
The article cites a policy of "re-segregation" by the Pinellas County School Board as largely responsible for the failures.
In an interview with WUSF News, Tampa Bay Times reporter Michael LaForgia said "Well, what we found out is that African-American kids in these schools are doing worse than African-American kids in virtually any other schools in Florida. In fact, ninety-five percent of the black kids who were tested in these schools in 2014 failed reading or math."
Here's Sen. Nelson's letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan:
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
August 24, 2015
The Honorable Arne Duncan
Secretary of Education
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202
Dear Mr. Secretary:
I am writing you about five public elementary schools in Pinellas County, Florida. Specifically, Maximo, Lakewood, Campbell Park, Fairmount Park and Melrose elementary schools have an alarmingly low student performance rate
These schools based in predominantly African-American neighborhoods are among the worst in the state, according to a report in the Tampa Bay Times which found that the schools do not have adequate resources.
That is why I respectfully request that the U.S. Department of Education review how the local school district is using Title I dollars intended to bolster schools that serve children from low-income families.
I am enclosing a copy of the Tampa Bay Times article. I appreciate your prompt attention to this urgent matter.
Last week U.S. Representative Kathy Castor called for a similar review of what she called a “crisis” in St. Petersburg’s neighborhood schools.
The Pinellas County School district responded to the investigation with a list of initiatives it has instituted as well as some short-term results it says indicates progress toward improvement.
The district further said "the road to transformation begins with solutions, not blame."